No reason for China to send nuclear bombers, PH not a threat

By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Monday said that there is no reason for China to send its nuclear-capable bombers for possible future attacks as the Philippines is not a threat to their country.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN) Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

Lorenzana made the comment after the United States claimed that China is allegedly sending nuclear-capable bombers on 'practice attacks' on its allied facilities.
"Well, we will definitely object to that. Mago-object tayo dyan dahil hindi dapat sila magdala ng nuclear dyan sa (We will object to that because there is no need for them to bring nuclear there in the) disputed area. For what?," Lorenzana said.

"Wala naman tayong kwan sa kanila, wala naman tayong masamang balak sa kanila. Wala naman tayong balak na atakihin yung mga reclaimed areas nila (We don't have any bad intentions. We don't have any plans to attack their reclaimed areas)."

"Kaya nga pinag-uusapan natin (That's why we are talking) about our disputes in a civil manner and there is no need for them to militarize to that level na magdadala sila ng (that they will bring) nuclear-armed aircraft or any other nuclear weaponry," he added.

Lorenzana said their official complaint will be coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In a news article posted in the website, China has rejected what it called an "irresponsible" Pentagon report claiming Beijing's bombers are likely training for strikes against US and allied targets in the Pacific.

The report, issued almost two weeks ago, said China was leveraging its growing military, economic and diplomatic clout to rapidly establish regional dominance, while its bombers were developing capabilities to hit targets as far from the Chinese mainland as possible.

China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernization of its once-backward armed forces, and military leaders have set a goal of fielding a world-class force by 2050.

The Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, released by the US Department of Defense, states that China is now “willing to employ coercive measures — both military and non-military — to advance its interests and mitigate opposition from other countries.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang rejected this as “presumptuous and irresponsible,” stating it was “in total disregard of facts”. Beijing’s military development was defensive in nature and intended to safeguard its territorial integrity, he added.

“We urge the US side to abandon the outdated cold-war and zero-sum mentality (and) stop issuing such irresponsible reports year after year,” he said. “We also request that the US stop releasing the related reports and safeguard the stable development of the two countries’ military with real actions.”

The Pentagon believes the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is seeking to demonstrate its “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.” The reports said China began its long-range bomber flights in 2013 and has since pushed further into the Pacific Ocean, encircled the island nation of Taiwan, loitered off Japan and Korea — and penetrated as far as the US central Pacific island of Guam.

Malacañang earlier said that it is also standing firm with its commitment to maintain the Southeast Asian region a nuclear-free zone following other reports that China might bring nuclear elements to the disputed South China Sea.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque warned that China’s outposts in the Spratly Islands may soon be powered with a “nuclear element," saying the government is concerned with the possible entry of nuclear elements from all countries and not just from China. “We are concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our Constitution provides that we are a nuclear-free zone,” he said Thursday.

Roque also cited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) treaty that declares the whole region as a nuclear-free zone. “We are concerned about the possibility that any foreign power, be it American, Russian, Chinese, may bring nuclear warheads into our territory and into ASEAN, which is declared as a nuclear-free zone,” he said. “So the concern is against all possible nuclear-carrying vessels from all countries,” he added.

Roque said that the Philippine government will try to verify Pentagon’s report. “If we could, we will try verifying it, try approaching any of these suspected nuclear warheads carrying ship and see if we can actually even board them. I don’t think they can be boarded,” he said.